By Paul Nicholson
August 24 – Chinese conglomerate Everbright’s offer for Premier League Liverpool is real and in discussion, sources close to the firm have told Insideworldfootball. Reports earlier to day in the Asian business press that Everbright knew nothing of the proposal are wrong, and the proposed £800 million acquisition is very much alive.
While neither Liverpool or its owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) have yet to issue any formal statement, it is understood that the proposal has been made by Everbright and received by the owners.
FSG have repeatedly said that the club is not for sale. Liverpool chairman Tom Werner said: “We’ve said it before and I’d like to say it again: this club is not for sale.”
These may prove to be famous last words as the Chinese intent is strong and their money is tangible. An £800 million sale of a club they bought for £300 million in 2010 is a significant return on
FSG and Liverpool have always maintained that they would consider any investment offer “under the right conditions and absolutely with the right partner”, but the Chinese is offer is for full control of the club.
The deal is being engineered for the UK by private equity firm PCP Capital Partners. PCP is run by Amanda Staveley who was involved in brokering Sheikh Mansour’s £210 million acquisition of Manchester City. She was previously involved in an attempt to buy Liverpool when Dubai International Capital unsuccessfully tried to acquire a stake in the club in 2008.
China Everbright Limited is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange and is described as a financial services company in asset management, direct investment, brokerage and investment banking, It’s parent company is state-owned China Everbright group. According to the Sunday Times, who first broke the story at the weekend, the cash for the deal is likely to come the China Investment Corporation (CIC), China’s main sovereign wealth fund.
Liverpool reported a profit of £60 million in its last financial year, most of that from the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona. The previous year Liverpool’s profit was £1 million.
FSG having bought the club found the had invest more heavily in the squad than they had initially budgeted. At the same time they reworked the club’s commercial proposition and funded the £250 million redevelopment of Anfield into a 56,000-capacity stadium which will host its first Premier League game next month.
They have also just tied manager Jurgen Klopp to a six-year contract.
In essence the club looks to now be in a good position to re-establish itself as a regular Premier League championship contender and to chart a return to the European glory years of the 1980s.
But even having done everything right on the business side, it has still struggled to pay the highest wages to attract the most sought after talent. Chinese money could change that very quickly.
With the pound currently trading at $1.31 its is almost 20 cents off a pre-Brexit $1.50 making the acquisition look particualrly attractive to the Chinese, but perhaps less so for the Americans.
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